WWE's most cohesive and most destructive unit, The Shield, have a de facto leader in Dean Ambrose, but the laws of the jungle dictate that they will eventually have to crown an official head man.
Since arriving in WWE at Survivor Series 2012, Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins have yet to be defeated, working like a swarm of locusts to smother their opponents. So far, their teamwork has been the epitome of unity.
At the moment, they seem fused together like the giant super robot that is Voltron.
Eventually, though, it seems destined that one of those three men will step out more emphatically as the clear leader of the group.
A pack of wolves must have an alpha male. Every army must have a general.
Ambrose may stand in the center of the trio when they record their messages. He may usually speak first, but each member is generally given the same amount of time to speak. It's as if they are the Communist Party of pro wrestling stables.
This balance has set them apart from groups of the past.
Ric Flair was the clear leader of The Four Horsemen. Hulk Hogan played the same role for the NWO.
The Shield's current state of sharing time and responsibility can't be sustained. Someone's ego will have them assume the role of leader. The only question is whether will it be Ambrose or someone else.
There are solid reasons for why each Shield member has a legitimate claim to be the group's head honcho, and WWE has an interesting choice ahead of itself.
The Case for Dean Ambrose
It feels most like Ambrose is the leader right now. He demands the most attention when he speaks. His partners are good on the microphone, but Ambrose brings an edge, an instability and a cracked-out charm that forces fans' eyes on him.
He's the most likely choice to take the reins.
In his promo work, he comes off like The Joker, a maniacal leader of men. It seems logical that Reigns and Rollins would fall under his snake charmer-like spell and do as he pleases.
When Michael Cole interviewed The Shield last November, it was Ambrose who initiated the conversation. He guided the course of the interview, immediately getting to the question of whether they were working for CM Punk.
The Case for Seth Rollins
It was however, Seth Rollins who then took over and explained the group's motivation to Cole. He spoke as almost as much as Ambrose that night.
WWE might begin to book Ambrose as too wild, too unstable to lead.
Rollins then, could be the charismatic man chosen to take over. His vocal delivery sometimes has the inflection of a religious leader.
Watch him during this segment on the Feb. 11 episode of Raw.
It's Rollins who dominated this segment and he looked fantastic doing it. He came across as a confident, well-spoken man. He could provide a steady hand, while the more enigmatic Ambrose may be too unpredictable to serve as chief.
Ambrose, one could argue, is better suited as the wild-man lieutenant that the calm and calculating Rollins can sic on their foes.
The Case for Roman Reigns
If The Shield is indeed the WWE's equivalent of a wolf pack, it seems logical that the alpha male would be the biggest and strongest member of the group.
Reigns has spoken the least amount of the three men.
He's been The Shield’s provider of power and intensity. If he were to choose to take over the group by force, to shove his way atop their hierarchy, it'd be difficult to stop him.
The decision of assigning official leadership will depend on who WWE sees as the bigger potential star. Should WWE see Reigns' athleticism and raw force as the reasons he'll be The Shield's most successful member, then it's not hard to imagine Reigns barking orders at the smaller Rollins and Ambrose.
Ambrose is of the nutty mastermind mold. Rollins could be the ideal prudent commander. Reigns is best suited as the warlord leader type.
WWE seemingly can't go wrong with any of those choices, but there is one more available option.
The Case for an Outsider
It would seem the purpose of introducing Rollins, Reigns and Ambrose in the way that WWE did is to build all three up as future stars. The Shield have not disappointed thus far, knocking out three fantastic matches in three tries.
Suppose WWE isn't confident in their abilities, though. Suppose WWE plays the safe route and elects to make The Shield's leader someone not currently on the squad.
While it would hurt the upward movement of the three young guys, it makes perfect sense for a man like CM Punk to usurp power and assume the group's top position.
When Punk was in the trailer for the WWE '13 video game, it actually looked like he might be in The Shield, donning the same black outfit as Reigns, Rollins and Ambrose.
Stars taking over new stables is a time-honored tradition.
Hulk Hogan swooped in and became NWO's surprise leader. CM Punk took over Nexus.
Putting an established star at the head of The Shield is not novel, but it gives them instant credibility beyond what they already have. Imagine if Brock Lesnar or even a name from the past like Roddy Piper took charge.
A leader from outside the group gives The Shield new-found depth and added star power. If the new alpha male is someone who is currently a face, it also offers the element of surprise.
WWE doesn't need to rush with this storyline, but it seems inevitable that someone either from within or from elsewhere will emerge as The Shield's kingpin.
History has shown that parity among a gang only lasts until someone's seizes control.